On June 1, 2016, the Governors of Washington, Oregon and California joined British Columbia’s Environment Minister and representatives from six West Coast cities, in the Borgia Room of San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis Hotel, to sign what history may show was a key milestone in the struggle to mount a concerted defence against the ravages of global temperature rise. The 2016 Pacific Coast Climate Leadership Action Plan has a strong emphasis on issues like ocean acidification; the integration of clean energy into the power grid; “support for efforts by the insurance industry and regulatory system to highlight the economic costs of climate change; and so-called “super pollutants” (also known as short-lived climate pollutants).” This sounds good, but do the Pacific Coast’s “Climate Leaders” mean business?
It is the outcome of the mid 20th century notion that equates progress with giant public works projects and assumes that we can engineer our way out of all sorts of problems, including living on a drought-prone state. This doesn’t work. According to Earthjustice attorney Trent Orr, California’s current water crisis is a man-made phenomenon.
There was a legal loop-hole, when Wyoming became the first state to require the disclosure of chemicals used while fracking, in 2010. Corporations did not have to reveal chemicals that were “trade secrets.” This qualification was too loose and some chemicals have been linked to respiratory distress, rashes, convulsions, organ damage, and cancer. So Earthjustice, acting on the behalf of represented the Powder River Basin Resource Council, Wyoming Outdoor Council, Earthworks, and the Center for Effective Government, sued the state’s Oil and Gas Commission to demand more transparency. A settlement was reached on January 26, 2015. Though it is still possible to claim chemicals are “trade secrets, companies will have to prove this because Wyoming requires further disclosure of fracking chemicals.